Canned tuna is one of those pantry ingredients that is always reliable for a quick dinner idea, but it’s not often the first one you reach for when you’re fully stocked. We’re here to rehabilitate tuna’s reputation: With the right recipe, there’s no reason to relegate canned tuna to a “last resort” meal option. One of canned tuna’s best qualities is how versatile it is. It can be sprinkled atop a salad, or shaped into patties. It makes a casserole heartier and a bowl of penne more filling. We’re not the only ones taking a second look at tuna—the tinned fish craze of 2021 is in full swing, let’s join in.
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Salads with canned tuna
When you add tuna to a salad, it suddenly goes from first course to entree contender
Not every tuna salad recipe comes packed with mayonnaise. Try this colorful Asian-inspired tuna salad that delivers a variety of flavors with green onions, radishes, and carrots. It’s topped with rice vinegar and sesame oil and tastes great served chilled, making it perfect for a summer picnic or family gathering.
This recipe is a classic French dish that is always a crowd pleaser. It’s typically made with canned tuna, lettuce, green beans, anchovies, eggs, and olives, but you can add or subtract items to suit your taste. Experiment with radishes, red bell peppers, avocados, corn, or artichoke hearts to make it your own. There’s something for everyone in salad niçoise, so this beautiful dish is great for a potluck or dinner party.
This tuna salad is as versatile as it is delicious. It’s healthy, light, and can be served so many ways. Use it as a midday snack, lunch, dinner, or appetizer. The Tabasco sauce adds just the right amount of kick. If you want to get creative, serve with crackers, or toss it with baby spinach.
This light tuna tomato salad is ideal for a hot day. The tuna is served over avocado slices, along with tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and a light vinaigrette dressing. It’s the perfect, easy recipe for picnics, patio lunches, or an afternoon snack.
This dish tastes as good as it looks — and you can make it in 20 minutes! Cubes of toasted bread, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumber, and red onion bring this salad to life. You can use tuna packed in water if you prefer, but using oil-packed tuna is much more flavorful, as it coats the rest of the ingredients with flavor. Traditional panzanella uses stale bread to soak up the dressing for croutons so tasty you’ll want to eat them on their own — but toasted bread works just as well for this Italian favorite.
Tuna fish cakes
A classic way to serve up fish is in the form of a fried or baked fish patty. Not just an appetizer, fish cakes make a great entree served on a bed of greens.
This zesty tuna fish cake recipe is packed with veggies and brightened up further with fresh-squeezed lime juice. It’s the perfect option for your gluten-free, paleo guests.
Using an egg as the binder, this simple fish cake features quinoa along with more traditional bread crumbs. Cook 5 minutes per side in a hot skillet and they’re ready!
Blue cheese crumbles and mint give these keto-friendly tuna cakes a unique flavor.
Casseroles with canned tuna
Tuna noodle casserole is a quintessential comfort food dish. Here, we offer you two approaches, plus another crowd-pleasing casserole with broccoli and cheddar cheese.
Tuna casserole is definitely an American comfort food. Many traditional tuna casseroles are made with creamy canned soup, heavy cream, and butter, making it high in fat and calories. To lighten it up, this recipe uses gluten-free chicken broth and pasta, low-fat milk, and extra-virgin olive oil. If you want to mix it up, add some fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, or mushrooms.
This recipe lightens up the traditional calorie-laden classic by skipping the fattening, processed canned soup. Instead, it’s a simple mixture of homemade white sauce, canned tuna, peas, mushrooms, and noodles. Mix in cheddar cheese and top with Italian bread crumbs for an inexpensive, delicious dinner even kids will enjoy!
In lieu of noodles, this budget-friendly main dish features brown rice. Broccoli and cheddar cheese are always a winning combination, and here, light coconut milk adds a healthier, flavorful new spin.
Sandwiches with canned tuna
Tuna sandwiches are served hot and cold, baked, grilled, panini-pressed, and more. How do you like your tuna sandwich?
This recipe definitely puts a twist on a traditional tuna salad sandwich. Olive oil mayonnaise, canned tuna, hard-boiled eggs, capers, fresh parsley, and lemon juice pack this tuna salad full of flavor. Put this salad on a fresh French baguette, top it with freshly shredded cheddar cheese, and finish under a broiler to enjoy these as kicked-up tuna melts!
This really is a tuna melt. But a quick homemade spicy Sriracha mayo sauce gives it the oomph it needs to feel refreshing and different.
Calling it a burrito might be a stretch, but this tuna — shall we say “wrap”? — sandwich makes a perfect lunchbox meal. Corn, celery, mayo, cheese, rice, and tuna come together for an easy hand-held dish.
This cold tuna sandwich swaps hummus for mayo, and according to the recipe creator, is freezer-friendly. Simply throw it straight from the freezer to the toaster oven for an instant lunch when you didn’t plan ahead.
Tuna makes a delicious pasta dish and goes well with a variety of sauces, from simple olive oil to marinara and more
Four ingredients go a long way in this tuna pasta recipe. Use canned tuna packed in oil (as opposed to water), and be sure to save the oil from the tuna. The tuna is paired with spicy whole-grain mustard and, mixed with the tuna oil, it coats the penne pasta for a surprisingly tasty flavor combo. It’s just spicy enough to enjoy without overwhelming the natural flavor of the tuna.
Traditionally, tuna niçoise doesn’t include pasta, but this recipe adds pasta and replaces the olives with capers for a more filling meal. The pasta is tossed with oil from the tuna, mustard, and vinegar to create a light sauce that can be served warm or chilled. Try pairing it with fresh bread or a light salad to complete the meal.
Buttery tomato sauce, pasta shells, ricotta cheese, a parmesan crust, and tuna fish — this recipe adds plenty of flair to traditional pasta dishes. Top with fresh basil and enjoy! Serve with garlic bread for an easy weeknight dinner — and the leftovers are perfect for a quick lunch.
Fishing for more?
We’ve got plenty more ways to throw a quick lunch or dinner together so you can win at mealtime. Check out these Yummly articles for more pantry meals, healthy options, and kid-friendly dinners.